Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Left Doesn't Walk The Walk, Disappointingly

By the miracle of Facebook, I've been catching up with a lot of old friends, some of whom are folks left off with in Cleveland, from 2002 (when I left for Indiana) or earlier then that, as lives changed. Some of these same friends are somewhat alarmed by my libertarian politics, for a variety of reasons. This has caught me somewhat off guard, since I've been plainly advertising myself as a Libertarian since 1995, and was doing a libertarian radio show in that year, and then again 2001-2002.

My experience has long been that those on the left think of libertarians as far right wing, despite vast shared interest in things like civil liberties and at times, foreign policy. Meanwhile, those on the right think of libertarians as being far left, despite common ground on economic issues or the 2nd Amendment.

But most of my 'old' friends are left of center, as I once was. My best guess is that the reaction is thanks to Glenn Beck, who often calls himself a libertarian. He's moving in my direction, but I wouldn't call him one yet. I like that he admits that he knew nothing about our country and its founding, and then read up on it. That's rare. But he's a lightning rod, and the left hates on him. I mean, HATES.

And that's one of the things that gets my reaction. I react against people on the left for using hateful speech about Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, et al, because the left likes to play the role of being on the high road will identifying hate speech. Problem is, too frequently, the left doesn't walk the walk. Plenty of talk, but I only really care about substance. Sure, we're human, and we have passions, but decent people will retract or at least acknowledge the passion of the moment. I find too little of the actual high road in the left these days. I find too much justification of the hypocrisy, and I just don't take that well.

Do I hold the left up to a higher standard? Heck, yeah I do! That's because I was there once upon a time, and was betrayed. Wasn't ever betrayed by the right, since I was never there. It hurts more when you feel hurt or attacked from inside your own camp, as opposed to from the outside, where attacks are what you expect.

The first betrayal was Tipper Gore and the PMRC, with their attack on music lyrics. When I was a young man, the issues that mattered to me were few: 1st Amendment, no draft, an end to interventionist foreign policy. So, when the wife of Al Gore was on the attack on music I liked? I felt totally betrayed. I couldn't believe it. Messed up the black & white picture I had created where Democrats were the good guys, and Republicans were the evil, repressive bad guys.

Over time, my confidence in the Democrats in particular, but also the left as a whole, was eroded in many strokes. But each time, it was a hypocrisy that got my goat. Clinton promised a middle class tax cut, then didn't following through, the Brady Bill, the Americorps 'volunteers', and then taking us to Bosnia? I was done with the Democrats politically. The more I started to see, hear, read and learn, the more I discovered that I was not really well suited to the left, and especially the Democrats. I was a huge fan of Thomas Jefferson, and had simply accepted that his party was still classically liberal, which I was. Alas. Wow, did I learn.

I learned how the left couldn't help but being what it decried. Sure, dislike Rush Limbaugh, or now Glenn Beck, but the vile hatred I've heard over the years directed at Limbaugh- by the people who decry hate speech?

Now I've seen the left, which was all about the anti-war protests while Bush was in office, but not so much once Obama was inaugurated. The plain, political opportunism was revealed at the expense of principle. I've seen this over and over again, and so, I've simply come to the conclusion that the left is completely full of it.

But hey- prove me wrong. Show me that you are holding the feet of your own to the fire about the wars, about indefinite detention, Gitmo, the Patriot Act, the war on drugs, spying on US citizens, and a host of other things that were allegedly important to you before January of 2009, and I'll begin to think better of your side of the spectrum, and even more so if you will take those on your own side to task for saying things like, "I'd like to see that Limbaugh (or Beck, Hannity, etc,) dead". Squash your own hate speech and racism, and I'll take your protests on it seriously. But not until.


Doug said...

Interesting about holding the place you came from to a higher standard. I came from the right, and the deficit was my #1 concern. Then I started to notice that the right didn't give a shit about the deficit - like aggressively ran up the deficit, despite making noises about fiscal responsibility. And then the Clinton impeachment was radical, petty, and hypocritical well beyond anything I could stomach.

As for the Democrats now, at least I can say that they don't seem to be initiating new wars or creating places like Gitmo. But, I probably don't expect much more of them than you expect of the Republicans.

Mike Kole said...

While I held (hold) the Ds to a higher standard, I never considered the R's back in the 90s, for the mistrust of them as 'The Enemy' was too deeply ingrained in me by then. When I felt cast adrift from the Ds, I began looking all over the political world to see what would really be a solid fit for me, and wouldn't leave me- most likely, anyhow- feeling betrayed again. Thus, I found the Libertarian Party. Kind of interesting in retrospect, because this was happening in 1994, right as the GOP was taking the Congress for the first time in 40 years, and were sounding many themes I could appreciate.

But yeah, the Clinton trial was petty and that didn't endear me to the GOP... but at the same time, some key people around me on the left, whom I always had held as paragons of virtue and integrity, were offering some of the wildest defenses of Clinton's lies about the incidents with Lewinsky. I could take it if he were truthful. A BJ? So what? So, why lie about it? Then, why defend the lies?

As for now, I'm not convinced that Obama wouldn't shift to Yemen or anywhere else, so long as we're adhering to this policy of going after the terrorists.

Anyhow, there's a lot of hypocrisy in both camps- grand rhetoric that is either not lived up to, or governed contrary to outright. What can you do but fight what you consider to be the good fight?